Stewart Cink is making Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton's decision look better than ever.
Five days after becoming a captain's pick for the U.S. team, Cink seized control of the NEC Invitational in Akron, Ohio, with six straight one-putt greens and a chip-in from 50 feet for birdie on the 18th hole yesterday. His round of 2-under 68 gave him a five-shot lead over a trio of Ryder Cup teammates.
As Tiger Woods and David Toms lost ground over the closing holes at Firestone South, Cink marched along with a steady diet of fairways and greens and finished at 11-under 199.
Woods struggled off the tee. He grazed a boy's head on the eighth hole, but really lost it on the final holes. He nearly shanked an iron to the right on the 17th and made bogey, then badly pulled his drive on the 18th and needed a great escape to save par for a 70.
"I hit it so great this morning it was scary," said Woods, who made three straight birdies to finish his second round in the rain-delayed event. "Then all of a sudden, I come out here and play like an idiot."
* PGA TOUR: Roland Thatcher closed with three straight birdies for a 4-under-par 68 and a one-stroke lead at the Reno-Tahoe Open. Thatcher leads fellow rookie Vaughn Taylor after three rounds.
Thatcher, who had four three-putt bogeys, fell three strokes behind Taylor with four holes remaining at Montreux Golf and Country Club in Reno, Nev.
He rallied with a 17-foot birdie putt at the par-3 16th and a six-footer at the par-5 17th. He hit a wedge from 84 yards to within a foot at the 18th and tapped in for a 14-under 202 total.
* LPGA TOUR: Hee Won Han was back atop the leader board at the Wendy's Championship for Children in Dublin, Ohio.
Han, the defending champion and 2002 runner-up, shot an even-par 72 in the third round to take a two-shot lead. The South Korean had earlier rounds of 66 and 70 at the rain-soaked and muddy Tartan Fields Golf Club and was at 8-under 208.
The third round was suspended because of darkness with 18 players still on the course.
Second-round leader Suzann Pettersen shot 75 and was tied for second at 6 under with Catriona Matthew (71), Marilyn Lovander (71), Mi Hyun Kim (71) and Laura Diaz.
* CHAMPIONS TOUR: Bruce Fleisher parlayed eight birdies into a tournament-low 65 and cruised to a three-shot lead after the second round of the Greater Hickory Classic.
* U.S. AMATEUR: Ryan Moore moved into a position to try for his fourth amateur title of the year, beating Jeff Overton, 2 and 1, in the semifinals at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y.
Moore will face Luke List, who beat Chris Nallen in 19 holes, in today's 36-hole final.